Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eyewitness ID reform remains unfinished business for police, Legislature

While Texas passed a laudable innocence compensation statute last session, most other innocence-related legislation (with the notable exception of state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa's bill requiring corroboration for jailhouse informant testimony) died in the House as a result of the end-of-session meltdown over voter ID. Perhaps the biggest loss for the innocence movement in that debacle was the failure of legislation to require police departments to have policies on eyewitness ID that conform to evidence-based best practices.

This TV news report from KHOU Houston reminds us that most police agencies still haven't switched from traditional, flawed lineup methods or even created policies to govern lineups. Police departments could do this on their own, and a few have done so, but I'm not holding my breath for the rest to follow suit of their own accord. The Legislature needs to go back to those policy reforms as a top priority in 2011.

To illustrate the problem, KHOU reporter Brad Woodard focuses on the case of Anthony Robinson, who:
was arrested for the rape of a woman at the University of Houston back in 1987, when DNA testing was not yet admitted as evidence in Harris County.

At trial, the prosecution relied heavily on the victim’s identification of Robinson. They called her a "dream witness."

She was young. She was articulate. She was pretty.

And she was wrong. ...

Robinson, whose story was featured on the PBS series "Frontline," was paroled in 1997 and immediately began scraping together the money to pay for his own DNA tests, ultimately proving his innocence and winning a pardon from the state.

See the full report from KHOU:


Anonymous said...

Why so many Black men accused of rape?

Anonymous said...

I saw a documentry on this it was called "Reefer Madness". They smoke this weed and well you know the rest of the story.